Former Apple Exec joins a startup to ban use of smartphone cables

Rubén Caballero, who had been with Apple for 14 years, joined a new Silicon Valley startup called Keyssa, Inc. At Apple, Caballero oversaw the wireless engineering of every iPhone from the first prototype in 2005 to the iPhone 11 models on store shelves today. And with every iPhone design, he had to include a cable.

The cable is a failsafe way to transfer data and every iPhone since 2007 and every other brand of smartphone has come with a cable.

Keyssa, however, wants to end that need with a chip it has created that can transfer data nearly as fast as a cable by placing two devices next to each other. One of Keyssa’s early customers, LG Electronics, Inc., uses this chip to connect its LG V50 smartphone’s second screen.

While wireless charging is now being used in phones, wireless data connections such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi have been too touchy to be able to discard cables completely. But according to Caballero, cables cause engineering headaches.

For instance, thin cables are used to connect camera modules to the main circuit boards. But if you bend them just enough, they break, which creates an unintentional antenna that interferes with cellular data connections.

But with Keyssa chips, the camera modules would just touch the circuit board and be able to transmit data wirelessly. What’s beautiful about this is that the chips use high frequencies that do not cause any interference inside the phone or with any devices that may be nearby.

Caballero says the beauty of the chip is the frequency which solves a lot of problems.

Caballero is now Keyssa’s chief wireless strategist and hopes to cut out the cable in all smartphones for good. He brings a lot of experience to Keyssa, in that at Apple, he oversaw more than 1,000 wireless engineers and with a department which had a budget of $600 million just for testing equipment.

Keyssa is not only working on chips for phones, but it’s also working with and testing chips with video display makers. And one maker of lidar sensors is working with the electronic eyes of self-driving cars.

More than $100 million has been raised by Keyssa from venture groups at Samsung Electronics Co Ltd., Intel Corp, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd. which the parent company of Foxconn. Keyssa has also received funding from Future Shape, which is run by Tony Fadell, a former Apple exec as well, who helped with the creation of the iPod and also who hired Caballero for the original iPhone team.